Please understand that when I type in all caps like that, I am being sarcastic.
Via a Facebook friend (who is a great director who happens to be Indian-American), I was pointed to this lovely article: Moises Kaufman can kiss my ass & here’s why.
The blog’s author, Erin Quill, is a Chinese/Irish/Welsh-American actress. Emphasis on American.
She is, apparently, a Broadway and LA actress. For someone who looks even vaguely ethnic – any kind of ethnic – that’s intensely difficult. If the ethnicity you appear to vaguely like isn’t in vogue, you’re not likely to get parts. You’re also subject to all kinds of stereotyping and fetishism. For example, if you’re a Japanese woman, you’re going to be asked to wear pigtails and mini schoolgirl skirts a lot. If you’re Polynesian, you might get asked to play Mexicans more than anything else, because of your dark skin.
Ms. Quill has a particular story to tell, though. There’s a new musical being created, called The Nightingale, with a brilliant creative team, led by Moises Kaufman, one of the creators of The Laramie Project (so he should be tuned into injustice … right?). The Nightingale is set in Feudal China. Turns out, though, that when casting the show, not one single Chinese or Chinese-American actor was cast. One Japanese woman, one African American woman, and two white boys were cast.
Here’s Ms. Quill’s commentary – she says it better than I do:
Now, I have read that La Jolla Playhouse is calling the casting of this show “A Rainbow”. Here’s the funny thing about rainbows – the color yellow is rarely in that rainbow when it falls on other shows. Also, diversity has a time and a place – it’s usually an unnamed place in the future, in a multi-racial world, or set in modern times – it’s not in Feudal China. Let’s get one thing straight about Feudal China – diversity was never an issue.
This is not, Folks, like the time a Texas Children’s theater did an All Caucasian Production of HAIRSPRAY and you can claim, as they did, that they had no African Americans around to cast – this is a professional theater with a budget and access to any and every Asian American Actor in the country. It also boasts a Director of International Fame (a New York City based Director) and a Writing Team that have won TONY Awards – all they had to do was say, “Hey, this show is set in China, let’s cast some Asians up in here .”
OR, if you are simply going to use the concept of the fairy tale, just do not set it in China, Feudal China!
Go read the article – her comparison of casting notice vs. headshot of actor is great.
Also, maybe, possibly, look at the entertainment you’re ingesting and wonder why everyone is white, just once in awhile.